Definitions of terms commonly used in our industry

active carbon
Indicates the amount of soil organic matter which can serve as a readily available food for the soil microbial environment. Active Carbon can give an indication of soil health.
An ecological approach to agriculture that views agricultural areas as ecosystems and is concerned with the ecological impact of agricultural practices.
The science and technology of using plants in an agricultural system to produce food, fuel and fibre and to restore landscapes.
animal handling
The handling of animals covers the general treatment of animals during the various tasks performed and requirements of an agricultural operation. Good animal handling practice minimises stress, pain, and suffering to an animal e.g. disbudding (removal of horn buds).
An advisor who guides farmers on soil management and crop production.
bio/carbon sequestration
The capture and storage of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the soil by biological processes.
The variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable.
body condition score
System of measuring how thin or fat an animal is by reference to a standardized scale.
Companion cropping
planting different crops in close proximity for reasons including pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing use of space, and increasing crop productivity.
carbon credit
A tradeable permit and or certificate that can be used to offset emissions, claim carbon neutrality or sold for additional revenue. One carbon credit normally equates to a tonne of CO2 or a tonne of CO2 equivalent.
chain of custody
The chronological sequence of custody, control and transfer of a commodity moving along a supply chain. In legal terms this is done through a paper trail which records that sequence. This means a commodity can be traced along the supply chain to ensure it has been managed in the correct way.
cover crop
A crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil.
crop residue
The bulk of the plant that is left after harvesting (i.e. stalks, straw, husk).
crop rotation
The practice of growing a series of dissimilar or different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. It helps in reducing soil erosion and increases soil fertility and crop yield.
drip-irrigation system
A type of micro-irrigation system that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. The goal is to place water directly into the root zone and minimize evaporation.
The Environmental Land Management Scheme is the new UK government subside scheme that will be replacing current agricultural subsidies in the England and Wales.
five freedoms
The Five Freedoms for animal welfare include:
1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
3. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
4. Freedom to express normal behaviours by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering
grazing capacity
Average number of animals that can be rotationally grazed on a given area of pasture for a year without harming that area. It is a measure of a pasture’s ability to produce enough forage to meet the requirements of grazing animals.
green finance
This term encompasses any financial initiative, process, product, or service that is designed to protect the natural environment or is designed to manage how the environment impacts finance and investment.
herbal lay
A mixture of grasses, legumes, and herbs which bring a wide range of beneficial ecosystem services to livestock that are grazed on them and to the soil environment they are sown in. They can also help enhance and build farm biodiversity.
infiltration test
A soil test that can be done in-field or on farm. It measures the speed and or velocity at which water enters the soil. The test is most commonly conducted in a cylinder or ring infiltrometer. If the infiltration rate is quick this can be an indication good structure in your topsoil. Whereas a slow infiltration rate can be an indication of poor topsoil structure.
intensive farming
Also known as industrial agricultural, this is the intensification and mechanisation of agricultural systems with the aim of maximising yields. This can often be at the detriment of the environment.
Also known as companion cropping, intercropiing is planting different crops in close proximity for reasons including pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing use of space, and increasing crop productivity.
keyline design
A landscaping technique of maximizing the beneficial use of the water resources of a tract of land.
The point at which the primary valley on a given piece of land gets suddenly steeper. The steepest slopes in the landscape usually occur in the centre of the valley above the keypoint.
living roots principle
The theory that a farmer should try and keep plants in the soil for as much time as possible. The roots which they establish underground are key for maintaining soil structure, preventing erosion and provide many other ecosystem services.
loss of ignition test
A way to test the level of organic matter in soil through a process of high temperature oxidation.
mass balance
The amount of a commodity entering and leaving a system. For example, many companies buy cotton on mass balance. They ask a farm to produce a set amount of organic cotton and after ginning and spinning they collect that amount of cotton but there cannot be a guarantee that all the finished cotton came from that one organic supplier.
The cultivation of a single crop in a given area.
monogastric (s)
Animals that have a simple single-chambered stomach. This includes humans, dogs, pigs, horses, and rabbits. Their ability to extract energy from cellulose digestion is less efficient than in ruminants.
Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, which are the essential elements for plant growth. They are often added in an artificial format in intensive farming. Regenerative farmers are starting to look beyond these, to other elements which help increase plant growth and soil health.
natural habitat
An ecological or environmental area where a specific species lives.
An insecticide that is used to protect crops from harmful insects. It was commonly used across much of Europe as a seed dressing to prevent flea beetle in oilseed rape but there was concern about its impact on beneficial insects, especially bees, and so it has been banned in much of the Europe.
organic matter
Matter that can be found in soil which consists of plant and animal detritus at various stages of decomposition. High levels or organic matter in soil, soil organic matter, is very important for maintaining healthy soils.
perennial crop
Plants that do not require replanting each year.
A land management process and philosophy that uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural landscape and structures to produce a life-supporting system. These are normally small self-sufficient systems that draw inspiration from nature.
The simultaneous cultivation or exploitation of several crops or kinds of animals.
regenerative agriculture
A system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. Regenerative Agriculture aims to capture carbon in the soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.
A form of environmental conservation and ecological restoration, which looks to restore degraded landscapes and improve biodiversity. The basic premise can be said to be letting nature take care of itself by stopping human intervention. In practice, it can be incorporated into landscapes in various ways which all look to keep management to a minimum.
riparian buffer
A vegetated area (also known as a “buffer strip”) located near a stream, usually forested, which helps shade and partially protect the stream from the impact of adjacent land uses. Benefits include the filtering of leached nutrients, reduced flooding, providing of habitat and reduced erosion.
rotational grazing
A grazing technique in which a large number of ruminant (grass-eating) animals are placed on a small area of pasture for a short time. The animals in question (cattle, sheep, goats, or other species) are moved to a new part of the pasture once every few days.
ruminant (s)
An even-toed hoofed mammal that chews the cud regurgitated from its rumen. The ruminants comprise of cattle, sheep, antelopes, deer, giraffes, and their relatives.
The intentional combination of trees, forage plants and livestock together as an integrated managed system.
soil biomass
All the living organisms and materials that have arisen from their decomposition. These are subdivided into live biomass – micro and macro organisms, plant roots and subsurface stems and residue biomass – organic matter from decomposing plant and animals.
soil health
Broadly speaking soil health is the soil’s ability to function and sustain plants, animals and humans as part as part of the ecosystem. Many variables can affect the health of soil and there are number of ways to measure soil health.
soil microbiology
The study of soil organisms. The microorganisms in soil play a crucial role in soil function and soil health. These can be grouped as bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae, protozoa and nematodes. There are more soil microorganisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil then people on the plant.
soil organic carbon
The measurable component soil organic matter, soil organic carbon refers only to the carbon component of soil organic matter.
soil pH
The scale of acidity or alkalinity of soil, this is measured to give an indication of what crops would be suitable to grow and if any adjustments are needed to make the soil the right condition for a certain crop.
soil structure
The way individual particles of sand, silt and clay are assembled and the spaces located between them. When single particles are arranged together appear as larger particles, these are called aggregates.
The straw stalk of a crop like barley or wheat which is left in the field after harvesting the grain. This can be managed in numerous different ways, some better for the environment than others.
sustainable farming
Farming in a way that meets global demand for agricultural goods without compromising the ability for current and future generations to meet their needs. Regenerative farming goes a step beyond sustainable, it’s the active regeneration of the soils and the environment we take the agricultural goods from.
Preparation of the soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as ploughing and cultivating in arable situations; and digging, stirring, and overturning in horticultural situations.